Instrument1 Design Feedback


#1

After a few weeks with my Artiphon Instrument1, I must say that I love the thing. It is a fantastic blend of so many playing styles and offers such a wide range of possibilities. The frets and bridge feel great to play. It is certainly built with quality and a whole lot of elegant design.

But I really struggle with a few areas where I think the design choices are limiting its ability to be a grown-up instrument for real musicians.

Here is my list of list of suggestions:

  1.   The Instrument1 is permanently a slave to an off-board sound generator. I wish the Instrument1 could store a few sound profiles onboard so it did not permanently have to connect to an iOS or MIDI device. Ideally, I’d like it to be 100% wireless. But the Instrument1 is the opposite: I have to carry around a separate device, which must be wired in at all times, just to play anything.
    
  2.   The sounds that come with the app are few and quite lame. There are so many free or low-cost sound apps available on the app store, couldn’t Artiphon have bundled at least 50-100 pro-quality sounds into their app? Instead, it forces just about every user to have to go outside of Artiphon software to make it a viable instrument.
    
  3.   The neck is too wide. I understand there is a trade-off: a very narrow neck makes keyboard/tapping mode more difficult. But making the neck too wide makes guitar muscle memory less portable to the instrument. I think the instrument design went too wide. For instance, any guitar chords that involve hooking a thumb over the top string are pretty much impossible on the Instrument1 due to the width.
    
  4.   No ¼” jack. I would like the ability to plug an instrument cable into the Artiphon and just play, just like any guitar, keyboard, or pretty much any other electric instrument.
    
  5.   The volume knob/mode selector and power button are too easily bumped during normal play. Playing the Instrument1 in guitar method, I’ve often bumped the volume knob with my wrist, causing the instrument to accidentally switch modes. I like the clean look of the Instrument1’s controls, but most professional guitars and keyboards do a better job of keeping their controls out of the way. The power button can similarly be accidentally bumped. When playing the Instrument1 in guitar mode, I curl a couple fingers under the edge near the bridge to hold that end up. Every once in a while, I bump the power button which is a disaster if you’re trying to gig with the instrument. A hard sliding switch would’ve been a better choice in my opinion.
    
  6.   Why not a traditional strap connector? Keytars and guitars seem to do just fine with the knob-style strap connectors. Why wouldn’t Instrument1 use that standard? Instead, I need a special strap for it -- not ideal.
    
  7.   No Bluetooth MIDI? I’m rather surprised that this brand new innovative device did not include Bluetooth MIDI, like many of the emerging controllers on the market.
    
  8.   What does the accelerometer do? I see on the box and the specs that the Instrument1 has an accelerometer. What is that used for? I wish there was a way to use that (or other means) to control expression such as a pitch bend or vibrato. But maybe that is coming in subsequent software updates.
    
  9.   Battery level – There is not a good way to see how much batter is left, that I know of. I think the power light changes color if it is really about to die. But there isn’t much info beyond that. I think it would be nifty if, when you first turn on the device, it lights up the Capo lights based on how much battery life is left.
    
  10. I’d prefer mini-USB power. I’ll admit I’m just being picky here. But I can’t stand devices that require me to keep track of their own special adapters. I’d much prefer that the Instrument1 charge its battery by mini-USB or Lightning, so that I could easily power it up using existing cables.

Thoughts?


#2

Hi, thank you for your excellent feedback. To your suggestions that are not hardware related and easier to address: The accelerometer currently determines the Instrument 1’s position for lefty or righty guitar style playing techniques. We are intending to expand the accelerometer integration to midi cc’s in the future.
We will add a more detailed battery meter to our software. Your input on the hardware features is great and we are learning a lot from this for future products.

Thank you,

Arne


#3

I don not HAVE mine yet, so this may be premature. But I have two thoughts:
1, based on the previous post - As the instrument does not use a logrithmic key spacing, guitar chops are going to be conflicted anyway, usng your thumb for the lower ‘string’ will be clumsy in any event.

Two, and the real reason for the post - I would love if there were a way to SCALE the neck, so I can have your default 1-octave, or 1.5 octaves or 2 octaves asa toggle (frettless mode, obviously.) 1 octave VERY quickly runs out of notes… (This may already be available, but have not seen it in the app.)


#4

Thank you for the feedback! It would be a good idea to have scaling options.

Currently there are six strings in fretless mode and each string can be tuned independently to any note. If you are using all six strings the range can be more or less what you like it to be. That obviously does not address what happens on a specific string.


#5

Great thoughts facebook. Having had the unit for a few days now I definitely agree with #2 and #7. Glad to hear more detail is coming on the battery meter.

I’m 50/50 on #3 since I’m primarily a bass and classical guitar player. No doubt that the width definitely makes some positions harder than normal though.

I’ll reserve my thoughts on #6 once the “gig pack” shows up (case and strap).


#6

Well, one thing has become immediately obvious: we will NEED more connector cable!

The position is such that resting the I1 on your knee/lap the cable is sharply bent at the connector - and is already showing signs of the outer covering/shield breaking free, which means the cable wires will soon be exposed. The one that came with the unit has a right-angle bend already.

Ad I CANNOT find replpacements cables online! Min-USB has been overshadowed by micro-USB, and all the cables I could find that had Lightning at one end had USB-A on the other or micro-USB with an adapter, thus unsuitable for a performance instrument.

It would also be lovely if you could offer a 2-foot version of the cable, so we can keep the iPod in a belt clip or dangling from the I1, the long cable just gets in the way.

But PROFESSIONAL cables would really be appreciated (FWIW, I have had this discussion with cable manufactures and distributors at AES and NAMM, both times the request was received with a tolerant, “whatever” smile and the promise that nothing would change. There is a reall need for cables for chargers and devices that can stand up to stage usage.)


#7

I predict that this connector is going to be the first thing to break on the Instrument1. They should be thinking about how to repair or replace it right now. A right angle version of the cable might be a good solution together with a way to secure it against the body.


#8

I like the right-angle idea. It would relieve a lot of the cable stresses.


#9

Having lots of fun with my Artiphon, still in experimental mode and not yet at Mastery ready to perform.

I put these suggestions in my Facebook review, but adding here for community feedback (I also have positive feedback, but not bothering to include here):-

Suggestions:-

  • Neck back should be rounded like my guitar. The edge is not quite right
  • Barre codes are hard and don’t always work for me (plays unfretted note)
  • On bridge, plucking individual strings or finger-picking, often accidentally hit other notes. Also often rested finger on next string from previous (bass pluck), and that made an unplanned sound
  • RESOLVED - NO LONGER HAPPENING! - When flipping between settings, sometimes got into funky sound mode when going back to guitar preset 1, so had to turn off and on again
  • No Mandolin sound on iPhone (I used Ukelele sound for Mandolin)
  • Cant modify 4x presets at top, wish I could override, then set back to default later
  • Changing between eight settings is sequential, not useful for performing. Was hoping to switch back and forth between two or three settings when live.

#10
  • Changing between eight settings is sequential, not useful for
    performing. Was hoping to switch back and forth between two or three
    settings when live.

What would be easy to implement, logically intuitive and work well - press down, the button then turn left or right,


#11

Additionally, more user settings are needed.Why not make all of the presets customizable?


#12

I’d like to echo points 1, 4, and 6

Point 1: For performance, it is extremely inconvenient to tether the device to another device. Too many wires.

Point 4: YES, the thing needs a standard 1/4" out. It would be super cool to be able to plug the Artiphon into pedals and other effects we’re already using. It would at least be nice to use all the same ins/outs I already have connections for.

Point 6: The little tiny velcro loop that holds the strap is not to be trusted, especially for performers. It’s not like I’m banging my head or anything- I play folk music- but that thing gets creaky too easily.

One more point- the mini USB connection is poorly placed. It should be shielded from knocks and bumps. It would be all too easy to either knock the thing out while performing, or worse, break the connection off the board.

The instrument is pretty cool and mostly robust, but there are some points of failure that could be as catastrophic as the thermal exhaust port on an Imperial Death Star.


#13

The Capo buttons are too close to the top fret. It’s very hard for me to slide to the top note without hitting the Capo button accidentally. It would be nice if the editor would allow disabling them.

It’s weird to me that the bridge buttons are a half step below the bottom fret. It would make much more sense to me for it to the same note as the bottom fret. Can I edit that?


#14

The audio jack seems bizarre to me. It’s just a MIDI controller. Having someplace to attach an iPod / iPhone would make sense to me.

If you want to use pedals, connect them to the audio out of whatever you’re controlling.


#15

One more item for future update - it would be far easier to play rapidly on individual strings if the bridge were a bit curved. It is far too easy to strike a neighboring string while playing tremolos, and unlike a real string, you can’t mute the others with your palm. Probably be good for the entire fretboard as well. Those frets seem a tad too far-spaced for comfort (short fingers… :slight_smile: )


#16

Yes, David, I too have suggested to Arne that they narrow the fret spaces a bit. I could see how almost an eighth of an inch narrower could still work OK, in my estimation.


#17

Thank you, that is good feedback.


#18

My first thought was to just dip an I1 in hot water for a bit, let it shrink…

Then I realized that would only work on the Nashville Edition… :grin:

My second, more serious thought, was with extra space could come more frets - and then I remembered - it’s a mid controller, the range is limited by things outside the control of the controller.

But range is just a number. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.) With enough knowledge of current electronic instruments and editors, you can pretty much create whatever you would like. Example: my Yamaha VL-70m wants CC2 for breath control, so I can remap pressure (or any other parameter) thru a midi remapping app. And Kontakt script-writers can have a field day with the possibilities. Expression options abound.


#19

The multiple note per string feature beeds to have a disable capability. It makes it impossible to play barre chords when in tap mode and also messed up other guitar tap techniques.


#20

So, would it make sense to have an option where only the highest note is played (on one string) in a tap/ grid technique?